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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Giving "Scrubs" a second chance

Loyal Channel Surfing readers will recall how I took myself to task for abandoning "Scrubs," a once-beloved show that I own on DVD.

Well, at least the first four seasons -- which still deliver on re-runs even though it probably won't ever be confused with all-time great comedies like "Seinfeld" or "The Simpsons."

"Scrubs" was always -- at least in my estimation -- an underrated gem. It never received the fanfare of "Friends" and certainly not the acclaim and awards like "30 Rock" is raking in. But its characters were memorable, the writing sharp and smart during it's hey day. Basically, its comedy was weird enough to stay fresh until it went past an expected shelf life and had to advance characters like J.D. by saddling them with newborn baby plots. Add that Dr. Cox's exasperated mentor routine got really old -- and reused as an awful "Taste Commissioner" bit for Bud Light -- and there wasn't much must-see TV to be had once the writers' laziness became readily apparent.

So, having lost touch with the show's last few seasons, I'm not sure why I felt a twinge of excitement for a promo of the new ABC season (premiering Jan. 6) during last night's Packers-Bears game.

I'm not one to fall for a fresh coat of paint courtesy of a new TV home. But I suspect it had something to do with Newark Star-Ledger TV critic Alan Sepinwall, who was particularly hard on last season's scattered NBC season, yet raved about ABC episodes he recently saw -- which I guess is the shot in the arm I needed.

From Sepinwall's TV blog:

"In particular, the second one -- a spiritual sequel to season one's 'My Old Lady,' guest-starring Glynn Turman (Mayor Royce from 'The Wire,' and/or Blair Underwood's dad on 'In Treatment') as a terminally-ill patient -- is already one of my five favorite 'Scrubs' episodes ever, just the right mix of pathos and weird comedy.

Bill Lawrence promised that he was going to dial back on the wackiness, and he has. JD is still weird, but he's also recognizably human again. And the new intern characters -- notably Aziz Ansari from 'Human Giant' and Eliza Coupe -- fit in very well. I think I'd rather see the show go out on a high note, ala 'Frasier' or 'Cheers' (both of which rebounded in their last years after some weak later seasons), than to attempt to continue a year from now as 'Scrubs: The Next Generation,' but if the ratings are decent enough to allow that, at least it looks like the creative team has rediscovered what made the show great in the first place.

Not trying to be a tease; just trying to remind everybody that 'Scrubs' is still here, and that the new stuff is going to be worth waiting for."

That's good enough for me.

Having been largely down on the 2008 TV season -- but with "Flight of the Conchords" and "Lost" to look forward to in January -- I'll take anything I can get at this point. So at the very least, my history with "Scrubs" earns it a spot on the ol' DVR list.

That the bar has been lowered might lead to a rekindled friendship -- though even if a new ABC season doesn't deliver, I'll at least have this holiday hybrid to savor:

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,



PUKE. I give it two episodes before they pull its plug.

-- Sara

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At December 24, 2008 at 10:33 AM  

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